Category Archives: Nature

Sights and smells of the great outdoors.

CMMC September Color: Dark Green

“Glorious Greens,” Iowa State Fair, 2021.

Knowing I would find all kinds of things to photograph at the Iowa State Fair in mid-August, I looked ahead at Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenges to have something in particular to watch for. Prize winning vegetables in the Agricultural Building fit September’s color challenge: dark green.

Winning Watermelon, Iowa State Fair, 2021.
Squash, Iowa State Fair, 2021.
Gourds, Iowa State Fair, 2021.
Warty Type Pumpkins, Iowa State Fair, 2021.

CMMC September Close-up or Macro: Water Droplets

It’s Close-up or Macro week for Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge. I waited for the rain to subside yesterday before heading over to Big Creek State Park for a walk with camera in hand.

Water droplets looked like miniature gloves when hanging from what remains of small flowers.

Finely spun spiderwebs glistened with the tiniest of water droplets.

CMMC: Devils Tower National Monument

Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge August Alphabet is Must Have 2 M’s in the word. Her focus photo is of a hummingbird and her pictures includes a mom, mushrooms, and mammals as well as a monochrome image. After considering a variety of possibilities – particularly mushrooms from my digital archives – I began to lean toward museum, memorial, and monument.

When I couldn’t pick just one photo of Devils Tower National Monument (in northeast Wyoming) from the hundred or so I took back in May, I decided to just show you some of what I saw.

The top photo was taken from an Historic Marker (see it here) that is 1.7 miles south of the park. Did you notice the school bus in the lower right corner?

After driving the three miles from the park entrance to the parking lot and with plenty of time in my schedule, I decided to walk the 1.3 mile trail around the base of the Tower.

How tall is Devils Tower? Devils Tower is 867 feet from its base to the summit. It stands 1,267 feet above the Belle Fourche River and is 5,112 feet above sea level.

Why is it called Devils Tower? The name “Devils Tower” originated during an 1875 scientific expedition. The Army commander in charge of the military escort, Col. Richard Dodge, wrote that “the Indians call the shaft “Bad God’s Tower,” which he modified to “Devil’s Tower.” The earliest official maps of the area label the formation as “Bear Lodge,” which is a direct translation of the Lakota name Mato Tipila. Other American Indian names include Bear’s Tipi, Home of the Bear, Tree Rock and Great Gray Horn.

Is Devils Tower an old volcano? No. Geologists agree that Devils Tower is an igneous intrusion; this means it formed underground from molten rock. Magma pushed up into the surrounding sedimentary rock. There it cooled and hardened. The sedimentary rock has since eroded away to show the Tower.

What kind of rock is it? The rock is called phonolite porphyry; it is similar in composition to granite but lacks quartz. Phonolite refers to the ringing of the rock when a small slab is struck, and its ability to reflect sound. Porphyry refers to its texture: large crystals of feldspar embedded in a mass of smaller crystals.

From Frequently Asked Questions on the Devils Tower webpages of the National Park Service: https://www.nps.gov/deto/faqs.htm#onthisPage-2.

If you look very carefully, you might see a very old ladder as well as two climbers in the picture above. Quite honestly, I needed my binoculars! It also helped to see a picture to know what to look for (see below).

Enlarging the photo also helps (see below). In the comparison photo I circled the ladder and the hikers.

Three more photos to finish the hike. The arrow in the middle photo is pointing to a person.

And, yes, for those who are wondering, this is the tower in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).

CMMC: August Color Red

Red is the August color for Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge. I browsed my digital files and found more red in 2021 than I imagined I had!

Flowers first: tulips, a fairy duster (who knew there was such a thing?!!), and a rose.

Next up: a glimpse of my visit to the Iowa Arboretum. The school house is so small there’s just enough room for a student or two with the teacher. The metal sculpture of a cardinal is the best cardinal photo in my collection – maybe someday I’ll get the right equipment to take live bird pictures.

For a little fun, here is a new fire hydrant looking at an older relative to see if it is safe to remove its covering.

And, finally, the side of a red barn.

CMMC July Word Ends with “K”

Bark (Japanese Red Pine)

It’s the July Word week for Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge; this time it’s words that end with the letter “k“.

Rock with Sidewalk Chalk
Drawing Chalk
Pink & Black Quilt Block (x2)
Book Stack on Desk

The books in the book stack were selected with the challenge in mind: Folk, Steinbeck, Potok, Think, Monk, Frederick, Dusk, Black, Nick, Black (again), Gleick, Deepak, Peck, and Desk. I’m sure I could have found more books to add to the stack but decided to stick with what was on the shelves in the one room.

FOTD: Yellow Wildflowers

Yellow wildflowers are in full bloom at Big Creek State Park. Scroll through the pictures to see (1) Compass Plants standing tall above Black-eyed Susans, Grayhead Coneflowers, and Oxeye Sunflowers; (2) Grayhead Coneflowers in a field of what looks like Little Bluestem; and (3) Black-eyed Susans in various stages of blooming.

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Another response from yesterday’s walk for Cee’s Flower of the Day photo challenge.

Flower of the Day?

I noticed it on my walk this morning along the Neil Smith Trail in Big Creek State Park.

It is not a flower. Or maybe it is.

Whatever it is, it is on the end of a grass of some sort. And it is teeny.

The color caught my eye. Red. On what is clearly a long stalk of grass.

If I’ve set it up right, you should be able to click on the pictures to enlarge them.

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Posted as part of Cee’s Flower of the Day (FOTD) Challenge because I think grasses are sometimes just as interesting as flowers, leaves and berries. 😉

UPDATE (7/26/21): My friend Kristy suggested (see comments) this is Side Oats Grama and I think she’s right. So it is a grass which has oat-like seeds along the stem. I’ve learned something new today.